“He was never good at counting. Even to know the result during the matches, it had to be done for him. » Around the table on this last day of the season, things are going strong. Returning to the number of years spent at the club, Philippe Ralite dries out. Patrick Guérin, Michel Hénin and Patrice Champenois come to his aid in their own way. By joking. At 57, 67, 65 and 58 respectively, these four pillars of the Chalonnais Olympic Club, COC, lay on. “It’s time to hand over, we must not become a club of old in the management! »
They laugh, but the emotions are palpable. The little tear that pearls in the eye never far away for these four guys. That’s because they’ve spent years on the field. As players, then coaches and managers. The oval in the blood. Green, the color of COC, on the shoulders and in the heart “For the four of us, more than 200 licenses have been taken here! »Their departure does not go unnoticed. It appears from the tribute that their foals pay. Loud applause, honor guard, several gifts and ” thank you “ launched by dozens. The last Friday in Lauvaux des Quatre was made to mark the spirits. “We could not let you go without!” »
250 i.e. the number of licensees, including about 230 players in all categories, from the COC during last season
In fact, everyone wanted to give them back what they gave during those forty to almost sixty years with the club. Like they did before.
“We were lucky to get to a club where people trained us, taught us to keep the spirit alive. We felt compelled to pass on all this on our trip.”,
COCs have, in addition to the athlete, become theirs “family”the stadium, their “home”. They are there physically “Tuesday to Sunday” in the evening on weekdays and ” very high ” part of the weekend. And that without taking into account the phone calls during the day. “There is always something to fix, but we do not count the time spent when it comes to pleasure”, Michelle smiled.
COC is above all for them a group of friends. “They lost on the road, Bernard Gueusquin, Germain Olive”to name a few, impossible to forget as much as they have ” share “and those who are always present as they continue “cultivate” the values of the oval. “When we say family, it’s not easy. In football we can join friends; here is more than that “supports Patrice.
brothers and proud
Between them, the word “brother” used to denote oneself. The four like to use the term, those who did not hesitate to take their partner as a witness to their marriage. “companion” is no longer enough after half a century of dating and support for each other. Everyone has their own little character. “Careful and rigorous” to Patrick, “gnaven, gnaven” for Michael. It may have sometimes spoken loudly between these four, but they never held it against them. “With Michel, we started with a ball as children on a square. We have not left each other since we completed each other. » A small statement that moisturizes his friend’s right eye. Before Patrick resumes: “We are all idiots!”laughs.
Coach, the adjective that counts
“We do not claim to be playing at a very high level because we have neither the structure nor the financial means,” commented Patrick Guérin, outgoing president. But there is one claim COC can boast of. Being an excellent “training club”. An expression that makes sense for the four pillars in the beginning. This season, the association received the Champagne-Ardenne trophy for the best rugby school. A sign that the COC family is doing the work if need be. Their U19s, who have all grown up with the club, also won their league final. And it’s a pleasure for them to announce those “trained with us” who have been able to flourish in larger formations after cutting their teeth in Châlons: Julien Ralite, Lucas Vedani, Emmanuelle Candini or even Jean-Philippe Saffore, just to name a few. few.
For them, rugby, especially COC, has a soul. It serves to unite worlds that would not cross each other outside a dressing room. “As a senior, schoolchildren shared the field with workers, soldiers, officers and non-officers, doctors …”describes Philippe. “We were able to play with our bosses and have a beer with him after training”adds Patrick. “There is no verdict.” Big, thin, small, huge, disabled, black, white, Arabic, very skilled or less, “Well we all accept each other”, the four decide by mutual agreement. And it is all these values that have created their group that they intend to pass on to their successors today. “We remain volunteers, we are doing well here, so we will return to help.” But not only. You never really leave your family.